Birker Fell

Length

Eskdale Side – 1.85 miles
Ulpha Side – 0.5 miles

Max Gradient

Eskdale Side – 15% ramps
Ulpha Side – 17%

Where to find it?

Approach from the north from the village of Eskdale Green. As you leave the village after a short steep descent you will get to a T junction near a pub, to the left lies the village of Boot and then Hardknott Pass so the decision to go straight on and tackle Birker Fell somehow seems quite appealing!

Description

A great climb that links Eskdale and the superb Duddon Valley, a well used road but strangely not as well known by cyclists as it should be, if it were anywhere but the Lakes I’m sure it would be. The Eskdale approach is over a wide exposed hillside, the Ulpha side through woodland. The two are linked by a mile or so of flatter road.

Overview

Eskdale Side – Like a lot of climbs it traditionally starts after negotiating a cattlegrid and straight away you are on to 15% ramps as the road goes straight on then sharp right before it levels, then goes up steeply again before you reach a flatter section at 0.9 miles. Then you have to tackle a half mile section of 12-15% gradient, the toughest part of the climb which really makes you work, a small rise is then crested and then there is a little ramp to the summit after a small downhill section.

Ulpha Side – Rather than a long gruelling undulating slog over an exposed hillside this is a short sharp twisty pull up through woodland from the village of Ulpha. Completely different in character and with a superb grippy surface this makes for a great descent as you switch between left and right, be warned the T junction just appears though. The ascent is challenging with a constantly steep gradient of over 12%.

Ratings

7 (Eskdale side) Hard work throughout and steep enough to get you going down through the gears right at the outset. I have stayed at Eskdale several times and it was very rare not to see cyclists slogging their way up it. On one rather bizarre encounter I was running up it as someone was cycling up it and we had an unofficial race, though neither of us admitted it! It tells you how steep some of the sections are though if a runner can match a cyclist over a 3k climb.

5 (Ulpha side) Steep but sheltered and not too long, probably equivalent in severity to the climb out of Hob Hole heading towards Kildale.

Photos

Birker Fell

From the Eskdale side just after the start

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